Absinthe Thujone

Absinthe thujone is the chemical found in Absinthe's vital ingredient, the plant called Common Wormwood, or Artemisia Absinthium to give it its organic name. The chemical thujone was to some extent accountable for Absinthe being banned during the early 1900s in many countries across the world and thujone is still tightly regulated today, particularly in the United States (or states united).

Thujone was considered to be just like THC found in cannabis and Absinthe had been speculated to be psychoactive and have psychedelic effects causing hallucinations and insanity. Absinthe was popular with the Bohemian set in Montmartre in Paris and several artists as well as writers claimed that Absinthe, the Green Fairy, gave them inspiration and their genius. Famous Absinthe drinkers consist of Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Degas, Baudelaire and absinthe thujone Verlaine. Some say that Van Gogh's madness was brought on by Absinthe and that he cut off his ear under its influence. Absinthe was even blamed for a man murdering his family, although he had eaten a great many other strong alcoholic drinks following the Absinthe.

Prohibition campaigners utilized news of the murder to campaign for the banning of Absinthe and blamed France's growing problems of alcohol dependency on the emerald liquor.

Is Absinthe thujone Hazardous?

Today's research suggests that it was actually the alcohol (ethanol) content of Absinthe which was dangerous rather than the thujone. Absinthe is twice as strong as spirits like whisky and vodka and can be 75% alcohol. Care should therefore be utilized whenever consuming Absinthe. Thujone is just obtained in minute quantities and must therefore cause no major unwanted effects or health conditions. The EU states that alcohol based drinks with an ABV {alcohol by volume) level over 25% may only consist of a maximum of 10mg/kg of thujone, beverages classed as "bitters" may contain around 35mg/kg, it is not entirely clear which class Absinthe suits but most brands of Absinthe have much under 35mg with many being under 10mg/kg. In the US it is just legal to get or sell Absinthes with trace amounts of thujone.

High doses of thujone can be hazardous causing convulsions but you would have to drink a lot of Absinthe to consume that quantity of thujone and it would be impossible to drink that amount, you'd be comatose from alcohol until then!

Absinthe Substances

It is said that Henri-Louis Pernod, who owned the initial Absinthe distillery, employed the herbs wormwood, aniseed, fennel, lemon balm, hyssop, angelica root, dittany, star anise, nutmeg, juniper and veronica to create his famous Pernod Absinthe. The fundamental oil from all of these herbs is responsible for La Louche, the clouding which comes about when water is added to Absinthe. These herbs particularly the aniseed and anise have the effect of the distinctive aniseed or licorice flavor of Absinthe and wormwood is liable for the bitter flavor. Absinthe is sometimes used as bitters in cocktails.

There are lots of brands of Absinthe or Absinthe replacements which were developed in the ban and so contain no Absinthe thujone or wormwood, but some would say that Absinthe isn't Absinthe without Absinthe thujone and the bitter taste of wormwood. If you would like real Absinthe look for brands made up of wormwood or Absinthe thujone.